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Uninspired by Old White Guys: The Mobilizing Factor of Younger, More Diverse Candidates for Gen Z Women

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 April 2022

Melissa Deckman
Washington College
Jared McDonald
Stanford University


American political activism has surged recently among young citizens, particularly among women and people of color. At the same time, record numbers of women and minority candidates have been running for office. Does seeing more diverse candidates in terms of age, gender, and race propel more interest in political engagement among Generation Z, particularly women? Using a survey experiment embedded in a nationally representative survey of Generation Z citizens, we present respondents with Democratic politicians who vary based on these three criteria. Women who identify strongly with their gender express greater political engagement when presented with any candidate who does not fit the stereotypical image of a politician (older, white, male). They are spurred not only by role models who represent them descriptively, but by all politicians belonging to historically marginalized groups. These effects, which are not specific to just Democratic women, provide insights that can inform engagement efforts targeting younger Americans.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Women, Gender, and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association

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The authors would like to thank IGNITE and Washington College for help with the survey's funding. Additionally, we thank Dr. Mirya Holman and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions in improving the manuscript.


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